Tag Archives: fox

Indifferent gulls.

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Seen from the train in Kent this morning, a field with winter cereal showing through, and a flock of gulls keeping their social distance from each other. Other than keeping a rather greater distance from it, they were ignoring a fox in the middle of the field, eating what seemed to be another gull.

These gulls keeping their social distance were at Portree on the Isle of Skye.

Spring, my mother said.

Let us celebrate the good done by surgeons, in particular eye surgeons. This note from my mother in Yorkshire is the result of her cataract operations giving her new sight.

Spring seems to have the upper hand at the moment.  When I was in the village this afternoon the big beech tree growing on the banks of the river and sending its great branches up, and above the bridge, was sending out its first delicate new leaves.  The sun shines through them and they are as soft as silk.  Standing on the bridge I could reach and touch them and the river below sparkled as it tumbled over stones that had been immersed in almost flood water for so long.    Even the small, brown trout were visible, and a Dipper was busy hunting for food beneath the water……………the village was busy, the traffic was noisy, but no one seemed interested or bothered with the magic on the bridge.

Spring is trying to assert itself in Kent as well. Here are a few observations from being out and about over the last week. I did not miss all the magic …

Friday, cycling along the road through the woods: an orange tip butterfly over a stand of garlic mustard, its food plant.

Saturday: Mrs Tittlemouse was on the yard, hoping to snatch a few crumbs. So were a sparrow and Mr Robin. He was so aggressive to the sparrow that Mrs Tittlemouse hid behind a flowerpot til he’d gone.

Sunday, living up to its name: Mrs Turnstone and daughter No 1 both saw the woodmouse; Mrs Turnstone feels that Spring is here.

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Monday, a trip to a cold Hastings to meet daughter No 3 and young Mr Turnstone. Bikers and pagans out in force for May Day. The latter drinking deep; the greenness round the gills not entirely derived from greasepaint. As the Jerwood gallery were inviting visitors to draw a green man on acetate for their window, I obliged.

Tuesday, back on the Brompton through the woods, this time on the track: a whitethroat singing where the path crosses a farm with the remains of a hedge still on one side.

Wednesday: a lizard in the classroom when I was visiting daughter No 2. Most of her pupils had gone home, but the one remaining had his eyes peeled. We caught the reptile in this blanket, put her outdoors – and she straightway came back in again and hid out of reach!

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Thursday: swifts screaming overhead as I ate breakfast in the garden. And so many more flowers out than I noticed on Tuesday or Saturday. Going slowly uphill means that violets, bluebells, primroses, herb Robert, stitchwort are all on eye level to a slow cyclist (who still gets up the hill!) On my way out of town in the afternoon I spotted my first beetroot-coloured blonde sunbather. She must have fallen asleep in the park.

Friday: Freddie the Norfolk terrier was being led home in disgrace, having rolled in fox manure. He was not the most popular dog in the park, but will the hosing down he was walking home to teach him a lesson?

 

Hibernation?

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It feels as though Will Turnstone has been hibernating these last few weeks. Did he notice the blackheaded gull in full plumage out there on Valentine’s day? He did, but did not tap the keys. Nor did he tap the keys for the wren that disappeared behind an ivy leaf at his approach, the goldcrest opposite the kitchen window, the bluetit possibly prospecting the nest box used last year; Br’er Fox crossing his and Mrs T’s path at 6.00 in town; the rainbows that punctuated recent showers – a gift from the low-shining sun; the lapwings, redshanks, pochard, and others at Rye, in the company of Mrs T; the daffodils wide awake for Saint David’s Day on March 1st. But be sure that he did indeed notice them and rejoice.

What blessings have you received during February?

Mice – with and without wings

The parent blue tits (or titmice) are very busy, right outside the kitchen window, ferrying many insect morsels to their brood. Mrs Turnstone, great provider as she is, appreciates their devotion.

A woodmouse appeared, scurrying across the garden path at 3.30 p.m; what crumbs did she discover under the garden table?

Finally, a flittermouse, a pipistrelle bat, flew across the front of the house, picking up flying insects that had eluded the blue tits.

I trust Mrs Tittlemouse is as well housed as usual since I saw two foxes going about their business the other night; one peeled off to the left of our house, its mate went to investigate the remains of the student party to our right.

Mrs Turnstone sees their presence as a clinching argument against rescuing a couple of battery hens!

Mistletoe? No!

Mistletoe?

I must have had Christmas on my mind even to entertain the idea for a moment. Well, how could it be mistletoe, growing out of the brick arch just north of Peterborough? It looked the part at first sight: a spherical shrub, branching down as well as up, but it was our old friend Buddleia, beyond easy control above a railway track.

So what will take over the world when humans are gone? Buddleia, brambles, birch, briars? Rats, foxes, jackdaws, gulls, magpies? We’ll never know!

Shared Space in the Garden and Street

One of Mrs Turnstone’s necessities in a garden is a pond; ours is small but limpid, though since the fish were evicted by Mrs T it is choked in weed. Perhaps we can remove a few pailfuls over the winter and let it start afresh in February and March.

Last week, as we sat in the pondside sunshine, a green dragonfly hovered between us for a few seconds: a memorable close encounter to be grateful for. But will her babies eat the tadpoles?

Today, 1st October, it was warm enough for a smart, grownup frog to be sitting on top of the mass of weed, golden eyes shining. He could not force his way under the weed to avoid my attention. We certainly will have to remove those pailfuls of weed!

The last couple,of weeks have given us other local sightings: the foxes were very vocal for a few nights, but then their minds and hearts were occupied with thoughts of love. I remembered the first time I saw wild foxes, when newly arrived from Birmingham at school in the Borders. A walk up the Eildons with three or four other young lads was brought to a halt by bloodcurdling screams and yelps  from a thicket. Suddenly the racket ceased and two magnificent foxes emerged to delight us townies and explain the unknown cries.

Last week Mrs T was pleased, even overjoyed, at the news that a woodmouse had been sighted at the front of the house; the first one seen since the Spring, but the camera on my phone would not have captured her, even if I had been alert to the  chance of such a meeting. Indeed, a few nights earlier I had failed miserably to produce anything recognisable as a hedgehog when one posed for me by the pillar box on the corner. Another one for the memory bank, not the pc picture folder.

It’s hard to be sure, but I think the leafcutter bees may have left their nursery. The flap of rose leaf at the entrance looks as though it may have been pushed aside slightly.

And finally, we saw what was probably our last bat of 2014, flittering about the back gardens and street light. A pipistrelle, Carolyn Billingsley tells us. She’s our consultant on such matters.

Enjoy a blessed Autumn!